Genetically Modified Mustard: Dhara Mustard Hybrid-11
Authors: Ravi Kumar1 and Nidhi Jain2
1 Research Scholar, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, SKN College of Agriculture, Jobner
2 Assistant Professor, Tantia University, Sriganganagar


DMH (Dhara Mustard Hybrid)-11 is genetically modified variety of mustard developed by Centre for Genetic Manipulation of Crop Plants at Delhi University under the supervision of Dr. Deepak Kumar Pental (Professor, Department of Genetics). It is developed by using three genes viz., barnase, barstar and bar from Bacillus amyloliquefaciens for hybrid seed production. The barnase gene confers male sterility to a plant in which it is inserted and barstar gene restore the fertility to produce fertile hybrid plants and seeds. The third gene bar synthesize an enzyme call PAT, which is responsible for tolerance to glufosinate in the plant. Glufosinate is a broad spectrum herbicide, which indiscriminately eliminates weeds and any plant that does not have the bar gene. Glufosinate herbicides contain the active ingredient phosphinothricin, which kills plants by blocking the enzyme responsible for nitrogen metabolism and for detoxifying ammonia, a by-product of plant metabolism.

Why a hybridised mustard variety is required?

Researchers and promoters of GM Mustard argue that India imports Rs.60,000 crore worth of edible oils every year. There is an urgent need to reduce dependence on imports and raise domestic crop yields of mustard, which in turn raises production of edible oils domestically. To improve yields, hybridization is a potential technique as it is successfully demonstrated with many other crops

DMH-11 is male sterile due to introduction of bacterial gene, barnase. Therefore it will be easier to cross pollinate and new hybrid varieties.
It yields about 30% more than a traditional variety.
Help in boosting edible mustard oil production thus, reduce huge import bill for edible oil (India imports 15 million tonnes (Mt) of edible oils worth almost $11 billion annually).
It is an herbicide resistant variety which helps in better weed management.

Controversy

Environmentalists are raising biosafety concern with GM crops as their introduction may adversely affect environment, human and animal health.
As DMH-11 has external gene that makes the plant resistant to herbicide. Thus it will force farmers to use only select brands of agro-chemicals.
Technical expert committee appointed by the Supreme Court in this regard earlier had found that HT crops completely unsuitable in the Indian context.
The herbicide-resistant crops may adversely impact the manual labourers, for whom weeding provides livelihood (Loss of rural jobs).

References:

1. The Hindu, news paper
2. www.gktoday.in



About Author / Additional Info:
I am pursuing Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from SKN Agriculture University, Jobner, Jaipur.